England team manager Martin Johnson is likely to have to count out Gloucester full back Olly Morgan from his Six Nations reckoning when he names his updated Elite Performance squads on Wednesday.
Morgan suffered a "very serious" fracture of a finger in his side’s shock Guinness Premiership defeat in Newcastle on Sunday and underwent surgery to help solve the problem.
"It is obviously very serious for Olly. I think there is some tendon damage, but I don’t know how long he will be out for," said Gloucester director of rugby Dean Ryan.
As a result, the in-form Morgan will misss out on an expected England re-call from Johnson this week as he revises his two Elite squads. Another worry for the England boss is the derad leg suffered by Gloucester skipper Mike Tindall.
Johnson is able to make five, form-based changes to his squad under the terms of his agreement with the Premier Rugby and the RFU. But he is also allowed to make changes for injury and suspension.
It means that he can replace the injured London Wasps duo of flanker Tom Rees (out for two months with a knee injury) and lock Tom Palmer (sidelined after shoulder surgery), as well as Leicester Tigers scrum half Harry Ellis, who is serving a six week suspension.
The retirement from international rugby of 2003 World Cup winner Josh Lewsey has freed up another place in Johnson’s 32-strong squad and there is also concern over Tigers centre Dan Hipkiss, who is likely to miss a month of action because of hamstring problems.
If they become the losers in Johnson’s reshuffle, then there could be a number of other players who get the chance to push their claims not only for a place in England’s Six Nations campaign, but also for recognition for this summer’s British & Irish Lions tour.